Roadschooling Orr-style

20141123_140222Just like every public, private and home school looks different in nearly every city, state, town, and home across the world, our idea of homeschool/roadschool, we know, is unique. This post is our way of sharing a peek into the roadschooling side of our life to encourage anyone who might be thinking about it. Yes, we love it, and yes, our 200 square feet of living space is half full of books, crayons, and construction paper (well, the tiny closets, at least), but we wouldn’t trade it.

If there’s one term that describes our little traveling homeschool/roadschool schedule, it is variety – consistent variety, that is. I call it both homeschool and roadschool because that is what it is – both. We don’t unschool like many homeschool families do. Rather, we keep a school-like atmosphere, space and schedule in our home (thus the term homeschool) – well, most days, at least, and we travel full-time, living in various places throughout the year and seeing different parts of the country from month to month (thus the term roadschool). Having homeschooled for 4 years before embarking on a full-time travel life, we are now in the middle of our 6th year of homeschooling, and life on the road for the past 1 and 1/2 school years has only made it that much better for our family.

Our daily itenerary lists the following items to accomplish: Circle Up, Science, Social Studies, Music, Art, Reading, Physical Education, Language Arts, Writing, Reading, Math, Bible, Games and Spelling. But how we do each of those things every day is different from week to week, and sometimes varies from one day to the next. Although I gave up documenting every little detail of this phenomenon a little over a year ago, and I certainly don’t want to bore you with those now, I think I can give just a hint of what this means for the super keen out there.

IMG_20141024_121613For us, creating a love for learning and building a well-rounded education is the most important thing, so we use several different curriculum resources each day/week/month/year to spark our children’s interests and encourage them to go further in their pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and learning for the rest of their lives. Every summer we buy the Harcourt Complete Curriculum for the grade we are entering, and we use these worksheets pretty heavily during the first two semesters. We also use several ABeka textbooks and reading comprehension resources to add variety, especially for my fourth grader Elijah. (Thankfully these were gifted to us, and they have been such a blessing!) When things get a little hum-drum with all the worksheets and textbooks (which is weekly), we spice it up with BrainQuest, Think It Through, the I Survived Series, the Who Was series, the Magic School Bus series, and other fun, educational games and books that we find at bookstores and craft stores.

20141123_155608However, the main curriculum that we use daily is called AlphaSkills. Developed by an incredible lady I happen to know from my small hometown in Georgia, this curriculum is designed to improve reading skills for children age 0 through 9th ninth grade in public, private and home school environments. Built around multiple books each week, with lesson plans for each one, this resource is the best I’ve found, mainly because the staff tailors your order to your child’s reading level and will adjust quarterly if needed. Even better for roadschoolers – It’s a rental program! So, we rent resources 12 weeks at a time, and when we’re done with them, we return them by mail and receive our next 12 weeks worth of books and lesson plans! And the boys actually love the books-all of them, which is quite a feat for opinionated homeschool boys like mine that are quick to say so if they don’t. Some are fiction and some are nonfiction. Some are primarily literature, and others are primarily math or science or social studies. Over the past 5 years of using AlphaSkills, we have learned so much more than reading skills. We have learned reading too though, and pretty darn well, according to our standardized test results! And it’s also a really fun model to follow. As an added bonus, I have been writing about our AlphaSkills journey for several months now, and several of our blogs are going to be featured on their website to help other families. For those who are interested, here is the link: AlphaSkills Homeschool. (We also do a Homeschool blog for them too!)

IMG_20140925_151737One more resource that is probably the most important way that we supplement learning and reduce the cost for our resource-rich homeschooling is the local library, library, library! On average we check out between 25-50 books every week, and we try to attend every single story time, program, movie night, baking class, whatever that they have for children. Why? Because it’s free! (Okay, not free, but paid for by our tax dollars.) And even on it’s worst day, it’s good stuff! And a great way to meet other homeschoolers! For example, on our first trip to the local library where we’re currently planted in Kentucky, we learned that the homeschool group was going to have a soil class there the following day. So we returned the next day for the class and ended up meeting 3 new families who connected us to a great local church as well! Now we meet up with them weekly if possible for playdates and story time! That is why the library is pretty much the first place we visit when we land in a new community.

20141117_090741Then there are those days when unexpected learning opportunities come our way.  We try our best to take advantage of every single one – the birth of a new cousin, winter’s first snow, someone’s birthday, a holiday coming up, a Presidential election, and the list goes on. One lady I met last summer called them “life lessons that are way too important not to turn into school days,” and ever since meeting her, I have tried my best to turn these life lessons into true learning experiences, which I have to say is pretty entertaining. Just ask my sister who had a baby a few months ago and got to experience my teaching the boys about reproduction and the miracle of childbirth in her hospital room! Don’t worry, it was totally appropriate for 6 and 9 year olds, but it was also a great way to help them ask questions and talk through things that we normally might just rush past in our effort to get from here to there and read this book and do that math worksheet.

 

IMG_20141025_163226Then there are those days when I visit the bookstore and find a sale on some really cool new resources that would add a new layer to our learning. So, we get them and we add them to the schedule – or we save them for next year if our schedule is too packed. For instance, I recently found and fell in love with the Summer Fit workbooks that were on sale because it’s no longer summer. So, I bought the levels for what should be next summer, and we’re currently trying to get finished with our Harcourt workbooks so we can jump into the Summer Fit after Christmas and finish before the end of our 180 days – that way we can do something else next summer. (If you haven’t guessed yet, our boys don’t really get bored at school!)

 

 

20141108_130913And last but not least, we love love love FIELD TRIPS!!!! National Parks, State Parks, Historic Sites, museums, science centers, nature centers, scavenger hunts, Junior Ranger badge adventures, state capitols, and the list goes on and on and on. Because we tend to do the most field trips when we are traveling pretty fast on our way to a new part of the country, you can find out more about some of our field trips through several other posts we’ve written about our travels.

On a side note, we try to check the Common Core Curriculum Standards every August, December and April to be sure that we’re meeting or exceeding national expectations, and we participate in standardized testing in various ways nearly every summer. (Yes, we really do. We’re not just saying that for this post; we realize the importance of these standards, and we take them on as a way to make our method better.)

 

IMG_20141103_102230Then, when our 180th day of school has come and gone for the year (this usually happens around May 1-15 because we don’t take many holidays or breaks), our summer schedule begins – daily story time, independent reading time, and board games with weekly visits to the library and as many educational field trips as we can get away with while the kids still have fun doing them!

So, is it a lot of work? Does it take a lot of time? Do you have to be super organized? Yes, I think so (at least to do it the way we do). Is it worth it? Absolutely. Every hour, every minute. Every lost hour of sleep and sacrificed television series. Every single dollar that we spend. Every single dollar we could have earned in a “regular” career.

 

 

IMG_20141117_111539Is it better to homeschool or roadschool? Well, that’s different for every family. We love both for so many reasons, but there is one thing we desperately miss about homeschool now that we’re on the road – our Homeschool Association and Coop. If only every single town had one like ours back in Brunswick, Georgia! And if only they allowed nomads like us to participate.

And what about recreation leagues? We miss that too, and we’re still trying to figure out how to get this experience while on the road. We figure we’ll try to do a basketball league this winter while we’re planted for two months (if they’ll let us in late), and we hope to squeeze into a baseball league at our spot for the spring/summer (if we get there in time). But if that doesn’t work out, I guess we’ll just have to ride over to the rec gym or field and see who’s out there one day – – maybe pickup games still happen in towns across the US?

In closing, while I know there are a few teachers out there cringing after reading this, we know this is what is best for our family this year, and we feel it’s the only way that we can do what God has called us to do while giving our boys the best education possible. Do some of our practices need tweaking? Probably. Can we do a better job? Of course. Will we evaluate, test, and make the needed adjustments? Yes. Every single year that we choose to homeschool.

So, if you’re thinking that homeschool or roadschool might be the best thing for your family, I hope this post has helped, even if just a little, and I encourage you to keep on researching. There are so many wonderful ways that people are homeschooling these days – including my friends who use online public schools like K12 and others. We sure love it, and we wish you all the best!

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi Celeste,
    I just came across your blog and I wanted to take a moment and say hello and also say that I have so far enjoyed reading through some of your posts. I find it always so interesting to hear how others homeschool while on the road. The curriculum you are using is similar to ours.Well, in the sense that we, in a way, rent too. We use Time4Learning which is an online program. So, we pay a fee each month to have access to all of the courses. So, I guess you could say we “rent” T4L monthly 😉 I like this set up much better because we encourage our children to learn at their own pace. That means that some weeks we spend less time on an area and longer on others. Plus, we school year-round, which means we do not have a set end to our school year. Being able to use just what we need, when we need it, save us money and allow us the freedom we desire.
    ~> I also wanted to let you know that I have a facebook page “Roadschooling – Families Homeschooling on the Road “. There I also have a section for a Roadschooling Blogroll that I have added your blog to. I hope you come and check us out and join in the conversation. I Iook forward to reading more from your blog 🙂

    1. Celeste

      Thanks so much! We always love to hear about other resources, and we’re always so thankful when someone shares our site with others too. Thank you for connecting us to your Roadschooling Facebook page – Looks like so many great resources and people to get to know in this new community we’re settling into! Many blessings to you!

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